Monday, April 28, 2008

Ode to my big bad pregnant self

At our benefit on Wednesday, I worked the check-in desk.

I had picked up some standard-issue silk maternity top the previous week, in an effort to be practical and not spend money on a dress I would wear only once. Since I was Clio's age, I have had a love affair with dresses, especially special-occasion gear (in Junior High my favorite past time was trying on prom dresses at the mall), and I suppose you can't fight nature. I relate a little too well to Carrie on Sex and the City showing the severity of her wedding aversion by explaining that she's not even interested in shopping for the dress: "Me, no dress!". Let me add that the benefit had a travel theme, with a sort of 60s/70s twist, and the only thing I like more than special occasion wear is costumes/ theme party attire. So after determining that the top I bought, while perfectly nice in its own right, actually made me look like I was going to give birth tomorrow, and the one thing that can make you feel even bigger than you already do is a steady string of well-meaning people saying "any day now, huh?," I broke down and bought a new dress on my way home from work the day before the event. And it was perfect. (The good news is, it's not maternity, it's even my usual size, and I should be able to wear it again.)

I have been feeling huge and uncomfortable and cranky, and more broken-down and physically compromised than in my first pregnancy (this perhaps is a side effect of being more physically challenged by chasing a toddler around, not to mention the fact that I can't sleep at all) and actually dressing up and putting on some makeup did wonders for my current state of mind. Collecting compliments all night went about 10 steps further (Call me vain, but I love nothing more than being unofficially voted "best dress." And when the event planner declared mine the best dress he had ever seen on a cute pregnant girl, I almost forgave him all the extra work he created for all of us by not doing his job just a little better.)

Back to the check in desk: I didn't even mind standing in heels for an hour while my ankles swelled, such was the fun of greeting our guests from a position of happy confidence: for once, I looked good. Our lovely Board Member Joanne Cassullo proclaimed my gorgeousness upon her arrival, setting a positive tone for me for the night. She even insisted on taking my photo on her phone, and sent me the picture this morning.

Sadly, I fear it's all downhill from here....

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Take Your Daughter to Work Day II

Creative Time threw our big annual benefit on Wednesday, and after a LONG day and late night, I knew I wasn't going to get a lot done on Thursday. (Plus, there's all the morning-after fun: gossiping about guests, checking out the results of the silent auction, taking a look at the party photos on Patrick McMullen's site). Everyone has been asking me to bring Clio in, as no one has gotten to hang out with her since last summer/fall, when she came in and, still crawling, tore up the office. Naturally, everyone was thrilled to see her, but Clio started out a little less thrilled to see a dozen or so new faces, looking at her. She's now aware of her initial shy reaction to people to such an extent that she'll actually put her head down on my shoulder and say "I want shy," but generally 20 minutes or so (and a good bribe: Anne took her off to the kitchen to get a banana) is enough to loosen her up.

She answered my phone a lot ("hello? hello? goodbye!"), and in fact changed the settings so the message light is always on, even when I don't have a message, so that's fun.

She also got to color with her magic markers in her Dorla coloring book. As she sat across my desk, she kept repeating "Swiper, no swiping! Swiper, no swiping! Oh, Man!" The "Oh, Man" being just about the cutest thing ever.
For those of you who are perhaps unfamiliar with the great Adventures of Dora, the character colored blue on the open page is Swiper, a fox (I think) who is always trying to swipe things from Dora, her monkey Boots, and the gang; to stop him, you need to say "Swiper, no swiping" three times, like a charm, after which he complainingly says "Oh, man!" Clio has obviously seen the show once or twice.

She also spent a LOT of time transferring gumballs from the gumball machine MTV gave us to a little glass bowl and back (I hope no one tries to actually eat any of them, since they spent a lot of time on the floor), but I didn't get a picture.

Finally, at the end of the day, she decided it was okay to spend some quality time with Anne.
Don't you love that they're both wearing tie-dye?

Somewhere in the middle of all of that, I did manage to squeeze in a meeting with our financial manager and one with our Executive team. Mission accomplished!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

On Raising an Urban Kid

Thursday evening when Clio and I were having dinner together, one of the gentler car alarms on our street went off. Clio looked at me, flapped her arms, and said, "Birds say 'tweet tweet!'"

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spring Wardrobe

It's supposed to be in the seventies all week- just in time for Clio to sport many of the gifts you forward-thinking people gave us when she was born: summer separates in 18m - 2y size! It has been lots of fun to do the season-and-size changeover, pulling all these little treasures out of storage, and to remember receiving some of these clothes back when Clio was a tiny little thing and it seemed inconceivable that she'd ever grow into them.

Here, Clio sports a stamped T-shirt she "made" at Day Care, an authentic Levi's denim jacket from Nonny, a stripes-and-flowers skirt from Owen and Laila's Nona (who chose it in tribute to my own habit of crazily mixing patterns when I was Clio's age (and Owen and Laila's mom, Lizzie, was wearing perfect overalls and had ribbons tied at the ends of her braids)), and her new prized possessions: mary-jane crocs and 50s-inspired sunglasses, both of which she picked out herself at The Children's Place. When we showed up at Day Care with Clio in sunglasses, plus a hood pulled up against the spring wind, Titi Miriam and Titi Millie called her a movie star.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Creating Diversions

We had a nice outing to the city today, mostly so I could show Dave the couch I want us to buy (more on that later, I hope.) We also took Clio to the old standard noodle joint in Union Square, Republic- turns out she loves pad thai and vegetable dumplings, but is not so sure about chopsticks. (Btw, chicken pad thai is up to $11. So much for this being the cheap standby!)
On our way back to the car, we stopped in to Paragon, a mega-sports retailer, so Dave could pick up a special hat to wear under his bike helmet and keep his noggin warm when he rides to work. (Dave is very, very fond of specialized equipment of all kinds, for any and all hobbies. He also likes to thoroughly research said equipment, so I was shocked to actually walk out of the store with a purchase.)

At any rate, while he investigated the selection upstairs, Clio and I kept ourselves busy at the hat rack, trying on designer golf hats, taking pictures, and checking ourselves out in the viewfinder.

Doesn't she kind of look like the Olsen Twins, circa Full House in this last one? When she started trying to take the tags off all the hats, it was time to move on. (She didn't think so: "Don't do that Mommy, don't do that!!")

To see more adorable hat-wearing toddlerness, check out Zoe, who likes to model hats around her house.

Portraits from the "virus"

Uploading pictures from our smaller camera, I came across these shots from the sick-leave week, all of which I had forgotten I had taken (thanks to my ever-worsening pregnesia.) I love that you would never know Clio was sick in looking at these, except that we generally don't let her run around in a onesie when she's well,
and the closeups follow a series where she's got a teaspoon in her mouth, from drinking her "medicine drink," aka pedialyte. A dead giveaway.

She looks like such a happy kid, right?


Except, she's going through a phase, and as it started right as "the virus" waned, I have moments of fear that the horrible week inexorably altered her character.

The new phase includes a favorite phrase, which she says in a very firm tone, while shaking her finger at whoever is getting the talking to: "Don't do that, Daddy. Don't do that!" Sometimes this is clearly in reference to an action, like don't put a bib on me or don't throw that ball, but sometimes it seems an utterly random power trip, and we find ourselves asking, "don't do WHAT?!"

This phase also incorporates a lot of throwing herself on the floor in protest to whatever egregious thing it is that we're asking her to do, like put on her shoes or walk down the stairs. In fact, she completely refuses to walk down the stairs in our house, preferring entirely to be carried down. This became especially bad during that sick week, when she really was a weak little thing and she got carried around too much. Recognizing that this must stop before it becomes one of those embedded habits like the blankie that requires a full-scale intervention at the age of 10, yesterday I took a stand. For about a half an hour, she sat at the top of the stairs and I sat in the living room. Every once in a while, she would call to me, and I would call back that I was ready to help her whenever she was ready to try it. Eventually, when it looked like I wasn't watching, she turned around and started to scoot down the stairs... until Dave came over and looked at her, at which point she threw herself back on the landing and started to suck her thumb.

I was reminded- not entirely pleasantly- of the first time I tried snowboarding. My old roommate Sarah and I were on the bunny hill with an instructor (Marni and our friend Kate Greene were expertly whizzing down the slopes of Hunter Mountain) and after some modest improvements, he suggested we go up a short little lift. We did, and after making it about halfway down the tiny hill, I wiped out. Sarah and the instructor were at the bottom, watching me try to get up, at which point I sat down and dug my board in to wait. And wait. We sat in our respective positions for quite a while, until Sarah, knowing me very well, eventually turned to the instructor and said, "You know what? She'll come down when she's ready, but she's not going anywhere if we watch."

They turned around and chatted amongst themselves, and eventually I did make my way down that mountain, just as Clio made her way down the stairs. I recognize that this is ridiculous. I think it's about the inability to transition a moment to no big deal once a big deal has been made of it, even if you were the one being a drama queen.

I suppose our kids inheret all kinds of things from us- for better or for worse.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Blogger, thwarted

Okay, so here's the deal. I'm home alone, and after a busy, tiring day, I just came downstairs to settle in to a new post. But guess what? Dave did something fancy with the camera (he was very excited about it the other day), and apparently this awesome new format, which supposedly treats the image like a negative (whatever that might mean when you're working with digital), is also unrecognizable to the computer. So I can't get the great pictures I took of Clio this morning into this blog post and therefore out to the world, leaving me to go back through Picasa looking for inspiration for a retrospective post, which just isn't working for me right now.

Well, here's a great picture from a few weeks back that somehow got overlooked along the way. I don't have a good story or anything, but at least you won't go away empty handed.

And maybe tomorrow I'll learn one more thing about the wonders of technology, and this blog will get today's intended post about the wonders of Clio's Spring wardrobe. If I'm still in the mood.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Things to do in Brooklyn while you're SICK

A week ago Sunday, Clio threw up her dinner.
Other than the actual act, she seemed perfectly happy, and in fact, did a lot of energetic dancing around afterward, as though she had just eaten a ton of sugar.

So Dave and I chalked it up to rushing her meal - we were waiting for an early babysitter so we could go off to Madison Square Garden to watch the Knicks courtside with Marni and Matt - and indeed, off we went. (Despite being perhaps the worst team in basketball history, they actually won the game. And watching the Knicks dancers and Kinicks City Kids was quite a hoot.) Halfway through the game, it occurred to me that, while we shockingly had our cell phone on us, Alex did not have the number, and the battery only lasts about an hour anyway. I had a moment or two of misgivings, but, to be honest (and to 'fess up to my occasional moments of Bad Mommy), I was mostly thrilled just to be out of the house, WITH Dave, and with friends we rarely get to see.

Naturally, when we got home, our poor babysitter Alex let us know that Clio had, in fact, thrown up twice more. We had to face facts: Clio was sick. And we had abandoned her.

Lucky for us, she didn't hold it against us, despite having cried for Daddy for a total of one hour after he left the house. No, the poor kid held it against Alex, continuously shaking her little finger at us and saying "No Alex. No Titi Alex!"

For the next FULL WEEK, Dave and I took turns staying home from work to be with our poor, sad, miserable little kid. It's funny, not only was it the first time Clio had such an extended illness, it was also the first time Dave and I felt the pressure of being a two career household: usually, I have a good deal of flexibility, which comes from seniority and longevity in an organization, plus an awesome and understanding boss, but last week I had a string of long-scheduled meetings and even a presentation at Brooklyn Arts Council (taped for cable, no less); meanwhile, Dave's new job is much more demanding than his old, and he had to put together an RFP or two before his bosses headed off to Mongolia. The juggling was stressful, to say the least.

At any rate, during her week of misery, we did our best to keep Clio entertained, and she did her best to be a good sport.

She requested a LOT of "dorla"

Tried on Daddy's shoes for size

And learned to "open" corn, among many other exciting, exciting activities.

She also spent a lot of time requesting that we go "outside," which surprised me because I generally prefer not to leave the house when I'm feeling crummy, but we did manage a trip to two different playgrounds, and did a lot of drawing with sidewalk chalk around the house.

Certainly best of all, Clio got to keep the Micky Plane, which we never quite managed to return to Target.

(As an aside, this is her replacement outfit after we foolishly, foolishly allowed her to have pizza on Saturday, which she promptly threw up all over the pizza place- or, to be exact, into Dave's hands. A second Bad Mommy moment in the span of just one week. Are we idiots, or what?)

You know what though? Here's the silver lining: the plane is probably her most favorite thing, ever. Just goes to show you can't always choose kid toys according to grown-up aesthetics, right?

Upon re-reading this post, I recognize that Clio is 100% likely to use it against me some day. Probably when she's a teenager and has decided that she hates me and I have ruined her life, she'll blame moments like these. As in, you forced me to eat pizza when I had the stomach flu, and tried to make up for it by rewarding me with toys- thanks a lot, mom!


So be it.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Terms of Endearment

Earlier today, as I buckled her into her car seat to head home from Costco, Clio turned to me, tickled me under the chin, and said "Hi, Cutie Pie."

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Generally, when people say that Clio is my doppleganger, or that she looks "exactly" like me, I feel that they are overstating the case. But it's not exactly my habit to look at us both at the same time, and occasionally, when I catch our shared reflection in the mirror (holding her up to brush her teeth after a bath), I, too, can be a little startled by the resemblance. And sometimes I recognize her expressions, not so much because I've seen them before, but because I know what it feels like to make them. And when I see a picture like this one, I get what everyone means.

Sorry, Dave- maybe number 2 will looks just like you?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Daddy Love

After a distinct phase of mother-preference, common recently among the mom's group set and characterized by such phrases as "No Daddy. Only Mommy," The Mommy has been overthrown. Clio is now demonstrating a distinct preference for Daddy (on reading books: "Daddy do it." On eating meals: "Daddy help you."). Perhaps this is because Mommy takes Clio to the grocery store, but Daddy takes her out to play with sidewalk chalk, and to walk to the corner to put the mail in the big blue box. Or maybe it's just because Daddy's are generally awesome. Who can say?

Clio and Dave have a thing for lying on the floor and "taking naps" together. Here they are this weekend. Don't you love how Clio is patting Dave's head?

And here they are several weeks ago, with a baby and a lamb (not sure what that part is about- you'll have to ask one of them).

Clearly, the camera is an unwanted interruption to this game they are playing. Oh, the Mommy is so left out!

Luckily, I'm not completely out of the picture. When it comes to changing diapers, apparently Mommy's your girl. Lucky, lucky, Mommy.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Ready for Her Close-up

Lately, Clio has become very interested in the camera. Well, more specifically, she has become very interested in having her picture taken. On the one hand, this was probably inevitable; any regular reader of this blog knows that there are thousands of pictures of Clio out there, documenting everything from the very mundane (wearing socks as gloves) to the more profound (minutes after her birth), so she was bound to either embrace or resent the camera.

Consider it embraced.

Now, when she does something (mundane or profound), she'll suggest that we take her picture. And then she poses- for a very close up mug shot, where she stares, doe-eyed, into the camera, and pointedly does not smile. The final, and perhaps most crucial stage in this game is to "see Clio" in the viewfinder. Pose, shoot, view, repeat. Here are a few recent results:

I will admit, this is actually an improvement over recent months when she was more apt to charge the camera, making it very difficult to get a clear shot of her doing anything.

How very celeb-battling-the-paps of her!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Raising a Reader

Someone recently told me a story about giving a book to the mother of a toddler; the young woman gave it back, saying "oh, we don't need this; she doesn't know how to read yet." Come to think of it, maybe it was in the letter from the editor in the most recent Parents magazine, which features an article called "Raising a Reader."

With a two-reader-parent household, that's one article full of tips we did not need: books have been a big part of Clio's life from the beginning, and we've been given dozens of them as gifts and hand-me-downs. There's a shelf in her room of Shel Silverstein, C.S. Lewis, Harry Potter, the Adrian Mole books, and
countless other adolescent and "young adult" books saved from my childhood, and waiting to unfold their myriad worlds to Clio as she grows up.

I've written here before about her phases in books; right now, she loves touch-and-feel books that introduce new textures and the corresponding adjectives to add to her growing list of nouns and verbs ("soft" is a favorite), but even more than that, she loves books with more complex stories, especially when there are pictures that allow us to create our own narratives.
The Berenstain Bears New Baby is one such book. Not only does it tell the whole story of Small Bear outgrowing his baby bed just in time for the arrival of his new sister, there is also a two page spread of "wonderful things to do growing up in Bear country." Clio likes to identify the various actions: "swimming, fish!" "flying kite!" "chase butterfly!" and it seems like a great way to encourage subject-object connections, and get those sentence bases going.

Even better is Good Night Gorilla, where the text is mostly a series of "good nights," but the pictures depict a whole narrative that Clio likes to describe: "gorilla keys, open lion" (i.e. the gorilla takes the keys and opens the lion's cage) or "lady, gorilla, bed!" (i.e. there's a gorilla in the lady's bed, and he's not supposed to be there!). Both books were gifts, and in their framework for imagination and language development, both keep on giving.

My favorite thing of all is when Clio "reads" books herself. Sometimes there are entire,
recognizable phrases correctly associated with the pictures she has essentially memorized, and often she gets the cadence of the story, based on our repeated readings (again!).

And here she is, reading to her animals.

I love the way she lined them up, and holds the book open to them so they can all see the pictures, just like a teacher would. (I'm sure Rosa must do this at Day Care.)

In going back through some old photos, I found a ton of Clio with books. Granted, sometimes she is eating them, but mostly, she's "reading." A brief retrospective:

When I tried to capture Clio on video reading a book, she had other ideas in mind. Let's just say, these are some of the best words a book-loving parent can hear!